Four months ago, I moved to the United States as an Atlas Corps fellow to serve in a nonprofit organization in Maryland for one year. I was so excited about this opportunity knowing that it will be a life changing experience for me… and I was ready for it.
First week after my arrival, I started to notice some awkward moments when interacting with “some” people. At first, I thought it’s because I’m an outsider and it was easy for them to realize that because of my accent, the way I dress, my hair or just simply how I behave. However, as the days goes by I realized that I’m not so different. Many people speaks with accent and my looks are almost the same as many.
I was in the train when it hits me… I am “black”! It made perfect sense to why some people would treat me with such arrogance or distance and why random people would stare at me while sitting in a fancy restaurant simply because they probably think that I don’t belong there.
I’ve been to many places and meetings where I was the only black person there. Four months ago, if you asked me if that will matter to me, or even if I would notice, I would laugh about it but now things changed. Now I know that being black would be the first thing that others will see in me and that I will be stereotyped with certain class or status.
It doesn’t matter who you are as a person to many people here, your background, your hopes or your dreams. Only what you can add to them is what matters and as a “black” person they see you as a person who might have a little or no impact on their lives.
Reality is… being “black” is a thing in this country. I feel sorry for those who are intimidated by difference. I feel disgusted by those who think they are “superiors” just because of the color of their skin. No matter how hard many educated people tried to hide their racist profiling it exists.
The sad thing is, up to now these views are passed to younger generations and I wonder what does it take for this sickness to be healed.